By Steve Keating
LIMA (Reuters) – It might have been Peru’s Independence Day but it was Mexico doing much of the celebrating at the Pan Am Games on Sunday as they continued their spectacular start in Lima, claiming gold in the women’s mountain bike and taekwondo.
Heading into the evening sessions, Mexico was sitting top the medal table with eight golds and 20 medals overall, ahead of the U.S. on five golds and 15 medals.
For Peru the big national celebration actually came a day earlier on Saturday when the hosts opened the Games by sweeping both the men’s and women’s marathon gold.
Peru added to their medal haul on Sunday grabbing a bronze in mixed pairs poomsae taekwondo but the country was still basking in the glow of marathon wins by Gladys Tejeda and Christian Pacheco.
“This was a perfect start for all of us at athletics,” said Peru’s athletics competition manager Jorge MacFarlane on Sunday. “Starting with two gold medals for Peru is very exciting and very important for us and for the Games.
“We expect the rest of the competition to receive a huge boost from this.
“We really want to put on another great show in the race walks and invite everyone to join us for another party at Parque Kennedy next weekend.”
Mexico got Sunday off to a golden start with Daniela Campuzano winning the women’s mountain bike.
Campuzano, who narrowly missed out on a medal in 2015 placing fourth in Toronto, made sure she would be on the podium in Lima, breaking free of the pack on the second of six laps around the Morro Solar Circuit and powering home ahead of Argentina’s Sofia Gomez Villafane.
“I wondered this week whether I was ready for the competition, and I was very nervous when I started today, but it didn’t take long for that to go,” said Campuzano, who was Mexico’s flagbearer at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
“I have learned not to stress and just enjoy the racing and when I saw the opportunity to jump out in front of the pack early in that second lap (of six), I took it.
“I beat very good competitors here today, and I am very proud of that.”
Mexico also took gold in the mixed pairs poomsae taekwondo event and picked up silver in the women’s K4 500m canoe sprint and bronze in the men’s K4 500m.
Canada, who finished second in the medal table at the 2015 Pan Am Games in Toronto, finally picked up their first gold in Lima by winning the women’s K4 500m.
(Editing by Toby Davis)